The greatest actors and actresses throughout history have proven that they’re willing to go extremely far to make themselves perfect for their most memorable roles. This can involve both physical and mental transformations that hide an actor’s true body and creates an entirely different person, or in the very least, heavy make-up that turns average people into glamorous television stars. One thing that happens to normal people that doesn’t seem to affect TV stars outside of sweeps week is pregnancies. It’s not that famous actresses have found some secret to bringing a baby through gestation without gaining any weight. However, they have come up with millions of little secrets that allow them to hide their pregnancies while onscreen, and a huge number of women have utilized these tactics to keep working from conception to the day they finish shedding the baby weight.
Actresses on television are far more prone to this than in film, given the fact that it’s much easier to recast a role in film, or simply wait until an actress isn’t pregnant to begin shooting. TV exists on a schedule that doesn’t care too much about the personal life of an actress, though, so these gorgeous ladies came up with a secret to prevent audiences from thinking their characters are expecting. Of course, movie stars aren’t exactly exempt from this either, and a significant number of films have hidden their fair share of baby bumps, as well. Many of the methods these women use are rather clever film techniques, while others are quite frankly a bit crass and often surprising. Keep reading to learn about 15 actresses you never knew hid their pregnancies while filming in some of their most famous roles.
15. Reese Witherspoon In Vanity Fair
Depending on the role an actress is playing, it can actually be very easy at times to hide a woman’s pregnancy, regardless of how far along she is. In a period piece, for example, especially one taking place in an era of ornate, flowing dresses, over accentuated breasts, and corsets galore, it’s actually pretty easy to hide just about anything. Vanity Fair was a 2004 film based on the William Makepeace Thackeray novel of the same name, taking place in mid-19th Century London, which is the perfect era for fanciful costumes to hide all sorts of physical afflictions.
Reese Witherspoon starred in the film as Becky Sharp, and her character actually does become pregnant throughout the course of the plot. However, the pregnancy only plays a small role in the characters’ life, and the film takes place over the span of several decades. Therefore, her character wasn’t supposed to look pregnant during the vast majority of scenes. However, Witherspoon herself actually was pregnant, so the producers used every trick they could to ensure her character only looked like she was expecting in the few select moments where her character was in the same state.
14. January Jones In Mad Men
One of the first major surprises on Mad Men was the reveal that the character, Peggy Olson, had been hiding a pregnancy of her own over the majority of the first season. Several years later, life would imitate art, although some of the roles would be switched around. January Jones portrayed Betty Draper-Francis, a stunningly gorgeous supermodel turned political socialite after her marriage with Don Draper predictably collapsed. Betty marries Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s aide, Henry Francis, in between seasons three and four, but the arguably bigger change in her character’s life took place between seasons four and five.
Jones was pregnant as season five began, and the Mad Men writers chose to deal with it the same way Peggy Olson tried to hide her pregnancy on the show by presenting it as an extreme and sudden weight gain. Jones no doubt gained some weight during her pregnancy, but the Mad Men crew added to her body’s natural changes with a full-on fat suit, and an entire season dedicated to how the former model was adapting to the stresses and changes modern society was bringing to her. Betty eventually lost the weight and things were back to normal, but the ordeal no doubt contributed to Betty’s cold demeanor towards the outside world.
13. Amy Poehler In Parks & Recreation
Amy Poehler has actually been pregnant while filming two separate TV shows, but it wasn’t that big of a deal the first time around. Amy was pregnant with her first child during season 34 of Saturday Night Live, at which point she was also one of the co-anchors of Weekend Update with Seth Meyers. Poehler claimed to perform 15 live shows in the span of 13 weeks while 8 months pregnant, but the nature of SNL meant this could be completely ignored. However, there were some instances where the writers actually wanted her character to be pregnant, in which case it was merely a huge bonus.
Poehler became pregnant with her second child while filming the series, Parks & Recreation, and as the star of the show, it was both more and less complicated to work around her body. It was more complicated, of course, because she was in virtually every scene. It was less complicated, though, because she was so important to the production that they were able to move the shooting schedule around her body’s requirements. Poehler’s second pregnancy occurred during the end of Season 2, so the first several episodes of Season 3 were shot immediately after production once that season ended. Therefore, the cast was able to enjoy a long vacation before they officially returned for season three, at which point Poehler had already given birth.
12. Betsy Brandt In Breaking Bad
Depending on how one looks at it, a sudden pregnancy can actually be viewed as the impetus for the insane and thrilling downward spiral exhibited by Walter White throughout the course of Breaking Bad’s legendary five seasons. Walt’s wife, Skyler, was pregnant throughout the course of Season 1, and the fact that the couple had a baby on the way was arguably just as important as Walt’s cancer diagnosis in his decision to make as much money as fast as he possibly could in order to provide for that baby. Despite all that, it was actually Betsy Brandt, who played Skyler’s sister Marie, who became pregnant shortly before the series began shooting Season 2.
Skyler was still pregnant as Season 2 began, so Breaking Bad used this unique situation in a rather creative way. Brandt’s character, Marie, remained behind walls and in baggy clothing, as is the usual trend in these matters, but they still had a use for her pregnant stomach. Whenever the series required a close-up of Skyler’s baby bump, it was actually Brandt’s belly that they used in the shot.
11. Courteney Cox In Friends
Friends lasted ten seasons, throughout which, virtually every combination of unrelated male and female main characters hooked up for at least a few episodes. Rachel Green’s pregnancy arc is considered one of the storylines that defined the show, and Phoebe Buffay gave birth as a surrogate when actress Lisa Kudrow became pregnant, but Monica Gellar, played by Courteney Cox, was one character who could never have a baby. Ironically, just around the time that Cox became pregnant in real life, her character was undergoing an arc in which she had just found out that she was unable to conceive.
The producers of Friends thus engaged in the typical tricks Hollywood uses in hiding her pregnancy. It also helped somewhat that Cox didn’t become pregnant until the final season of the show, and therefore the production was already in the phase of wrapping everything up and saying goodbye. Her body wasn’t showing the obvious signs of pregnancy that would cause it to be a huge problem while filming.
10. Halle Berry In X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Costumes can serve as a great help to women wanting to hide parts of their bodies while filming. If there’s an expectation on what that costume should be, that can turn around and destroy any chances of hiding a woman’s midsection should she become pregnant. That was the case with Halle Berry, who portrayed Storm in the ultra-popular X-Men series, including the 2014 entry, Days of Future Past. Being some of the most iconic comic book characters of all time, not to mention the fact that Berry had already portrayed Storm in three movies thus far, there wasn’t much leeway to the classic X-Men style bodysuit her character was forced to wear for the majority of the film.
Berry became pregnant shortly before shooting began, and the budget and Hollywood importance of this film meant the shooting schedule couldn’t be pushed back or changed to accommodate for her special circumstance. According to Berry, this resulted in X-Men having one of the fastest shooting schedules she’s had to work with, and her role still had to be reduced from the original script despite their best efforts. Berry said she was popping out of her skin-tight bodysuit within three weeks, and rewrites were done to diminish Storm’s presence in certain scenes.
9. Ellen Pompeo In Grey’s Anatomy
Typically, when the star of a TV program gets pregnant, they play such an important role in the proceedings of the show that production gets shifted around or storylines need to become changed. Sometimes the usual camera tricks and usage of props simply aren’t enough. Ellen Pompeo has starred as Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy for 12 seasons now, but despite her character being so important that her name is in the series title, writers were still able to come up with a reason for her to take a few episodes off when it became too obvious that she was pregnant.
It also helped that Grey’s Anatomy takes place in a hospital, and Pompeo’s character in particular is a doctor, so the crew was able to continually dress her in larger and larger hospital scrubs. This was done in such an incremental manner that most audience members didn’t even notice. Early in Season 6, though, Pompeo’s body had changed so noticeably that hospital scrubs were no longer enough to hide a baby bump. To get around this new change, her character decided to donate her liver instead of stay on camera as the baby’s delivery grew ever closer.
8. Julia Roberts In Ocean’s Twelve
Many of the methods employed by the pregnant women in Hollywood could be described as clever, and cleverness is the entire point of the Danny Ocean heist series. While Ocean’s schemes earned the title, one of the standouts in the series is usually Julia Roberts, who was actually pregnant during the second film, Ocean’s Twelve. Producers became aware of her pregnancy early enough into the filmmaking process that they were able to rewrite the script, not to reduce her role or to change her character, but to include a fake pregnancy as part of the gang’s scheme.
Roberts essentially was hiding the fact that she was pregnant by pretending to be pregnant in the film. George Clooney’s character, Danny Ocean, portrayed the fake father in the film, while her real-life husband, Daniel Moder, was responsible for the real twins she would deliver in late 2004. Roberts pregnancy wasn’t the only meta-joke the series utilized, as her character, Tess Ocean, also pretended to be Julia Roberts throughout the course of the film. So, in the end, Julia Roberts was pregnant, pretending to be someone else who wasn’t pregnant, in a character who was, in turn, pretending to be a pregnant Julia Roberts. With a reality that confusing, it isn’t too surprising that Ocean and his crew pulled off yet another stunning heist.
7. Helena Bonham Carter In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
We already mentioned Victorian period pieces make it fairly easy to hide all sorts of physical conditions thanks to ornate corsets, and that concept is even more true if the film also manages to appear dark and mysterious. This is yet another trick that can be utilized, since lighting tricks can hide even more than the average costume is capable of hiding. Tim Burton and his then-wife Helena Bonham Carter were aware of this, and that’s why Burton was able to cast her as the female lead in Sweeny Todd despite the fact that she was pregnant with his child during the shooting of the film.
According to Carter, the corsets and the costumes helped hide certain parts of her body, but thanks to a non-linear shooting schedule, they actually caused another part of her body most men would consider even more noticeable to wildly fluctuate throughout the film. Yes, this is referring to her breasts. Carter is a rather buxom woman to begin with, and pregnancy changes more than just a woman’s stomach. To Carter’s credit, looking back on the ordeal on Good Morning America, she seemed to find the fascination with her changing breast size more humorous than anything else.
6. Alyson Hannigan In How I Met Your Mother
Marshall and Lily were bound to have a baby since the first episode of How I Met Your Mother when they were presented as the textbook perfect couple in contrast to Ted’s inability to find true love. The writers of the show didn’t want Lily to get pregnant until it fit the storyline, though, and thus Alyson Hannigan’s pregnancy during Season 4 forced them to resort to the usual tricks to hide her changing body. Luckily, the show takes place in New York, and the shooting schedule and Hannigan’s pregnancy occurred during winter, meaning it was pretty easy to cover her and the rest of the cast in giant coats that could hide just about anything the actors didn’t want to be seen.
How I Met Your Mother was a sitcom known for its many creative flashbacks and sight gags, and Hannigan was willing to put her true body on display for some silly jokes when appropriate. One great example of this was an episode featuring Lily improbably winning a hot dog contest, where her pregnant stomach is used to portray the massive gut that eating so many hot dogs would have given her.
5. Sarah Jessica Parker In Sex And The City
Pregnancies can come at both expected and unexpected times, but the vast majority of them have one thing in common: they are the result of people having sex. Alternative scientific methods to produce children do exist, but most men and women prefer the old-fashioned way, and the reason has nothing to do with tradition. People like making babies through sex because they like sex in general, and countless TV shows and films have been based on that fact. Few shows have been more blatant about how sex-obsessed certain people can be than HBO’s Sex and the City, and yet somehow, the fact that sex often results in pregnancies was the one sexual consequence that the main character, Carrie Bradshaw, had virtually no interest in.
Sarah Jessica Parker starred in the series, and became pregnant during the course of Season 5. Carrie’s friends had children throughout the show, but the main character remained steadfast in her decision not to have children, meaning that the producers of the show had to find some way to work around Parker’s condition. Creative camera angles were used, and Carrie’s interest in high fashion took some interesting turns until the season ultimately had its episode order reduced from 10 to 8 in order to accommodate the fact that Parker simply couldn’t hide her body any longer.
4. Kerry Washington In Scandal
Scandal is a series about the high-strung political world of Olivia Pope, former crisis manager for the President of the United States. She now has a firm of her own and an increasingly scandalous and tumultuous life to deal with, in addition to her many high-profile political clients. Pope has her fair share of dalliances that fans have speculated could end in shocking pregnancies, but producers decided that wasn’t the route for her character when actress Kerry Washington became pregnant during the course of Season 3.
Scandal is one of the most recent shows on the list, and thus Kerry Washington hiding her pregnancy on the show has turned into a meme all on its own. The series has used almost every imaginable camera trick and blocking technique to hide her body, and Buzzfeed was there to document it all with ridiculous gifs and video proof. Nonetheless, producers of the show basically ignored how obvious Washington’s body was to fans, at least until the very end, when they were forced to cut the season from 22 episodes down to only 18.
3. Julia Louis-Dreyfus In Seinfeld
Elaine Benes had plenty of boyfriends throughout the nine seasons Seinfeld, but the idea of her having a child never really came up. It made more sense that her character wouldn’t become pregnant since Elaine definitely didn’t like babies as much as most other females on the show. She often complained about how ugly they were, and laughed at the idea of dingoes eating them. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is less harsh on the subject, and she became pregnant shortly after Season 3, which meant that the pregnancy was quite far along during the start of Season 4. Elaine hid her pregnancy in both the obvious ways and a rather Seinfeld-ian way, using boxes, presents, and a storyline about Elaine going on vacation which kept her out of a few episodes.
She again became pregnant during Season 8, and that time, the shooting schedule and set dressing was pretty much able to work around her. Years later, it was revealed on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee that Seinfeld had wanted to introduce a storyline where Elaine started to gain weight and the others made fun of her for it, but the idea was scrapped when it deeply hurt her feelings. However, Julia would also go on to say that she was wrong for having taken it personally, and in hindsight, she agreed it could have been a funny idea were she willing to be more open to it.
2. Kaitlin Olson In It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Sweet Dee getting pregnant was one of the most memorable recurring plotlines the Always Sunny gang has contrived thus far, and it appropriately coincided with Kaitlin Olson’s real-life pregnancy. Olson’s character, Dee, wasn’t pregnant until halfway through the season, while the real life Olson was already with child before shooting even began. Specifically, Dee was pregnant during the shooting of “The Gang Buys a Boat,” an episode in which she uncoordinatedly danced like an inflatable doll, somehow masking the fact that she was pregnant while jutting her stomach around in bizarre positions.
Olson would become pregnant with her second child during the shooting of Sunny’s seventh season, and that time they resorted to more of the usual tactics to prevent her from showing on TV. The cast couldn’t simply make her pregnant again, considering Dee claimed having a baby “sucked a bag of d***s,” and that she would never do it again. Even the pregnancy that was written in the show was revealed to be the result of a surrogacy, and Dee immediately handed the child off to Mac’s transgender ex-girlfriend, Carmen. As fun as a My Two Dads scenario may have appeared at first glance, the gang really didn’t need a baby, so it’s probably all for the best.
1. Leah Remini in The King of Queens
We’ve already covered the fact that Leah Remini was way hotter than her TV husband, Kevin James, on The King of Queens, but that doesn’t mean they were presented as a completely loveless couple. There were multiple plotlines surrounding the fact that Doug and Carrie Heffernan didn’t have any children, and the writing staff was open about the reason. Carrie’s father, Arthur, was already serving the purpose a child character would have, so there was no point to give them a kid. Remini herself wasn’t bound to these sitcom constrictions, however, and thus she became pregnant during Season 6.
At first, The King of Queens used the typical masking techniques, having Remini appear mostly behind couches or with laundry baskets in her hands, which generally did well to hide her condition. However, things began to change as her pregnancy raged on and her body evolved in a way that made it almost impossible to hide. A plotline was introduced where her husband was hypocritically upset that she was putting on weight. Remini eventually dropped the weight and things were back to the status quo before long, with people once again wondering how he was able to nab a girl like that in the first place.